top of page
La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The first settlers in America

20000 BCE

The first humans to settle in America came from the North around 20,000 years ago.

It's thought that they crossed over from Asia through Beringia - a landmass that connected Siberia to Alaska.

By 8,000 BCE there were human settlements across all of the United States.

Particularly striking artefacts from this period include :
- spear points, basket strands and a pair of sandals found in Oregon (10,000 BCE)
- a painted bison skull in Oklahoma - the oldest painted object in North America (10,000 BCE)
- spear points found across the Southwest of the US pointing to a common culture (9000 BCE)

In California, a skeleton was found in the Channel Islands (11,000 BCE) and the oldest fishhooks in the US on Cedros island (9,000 BCE).

Humans at the time were highly mobile, hunting big game like mammoths, bisons, mastodons, and traveled in small groups of 20-50, tracking game and fresh water sources.

The painted skull of Oklahoma was found on the site of the killing of 30 bisons - a particularly remarkable feat when you think that humans only had knives and spears.

In 7000 BCE, however, global warming and hunting led to the extinction of many large animals that humans had relied on.

Humans had to adapt.

They turned to small game like rabbits, deer and antelope, which they complemented with nuts, seeds, fruit, fish... and began to store surpluses in baskets.

The Southwest of the US saw the development of the 3 major archeological cultures - the Ancestral Pueblo, the Hohokam and the Mogollon.

Some of their sites are still visible today, like the UNESCO Wold Heritage Sites of Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.